Book Review: Black Kripple Delivers Poetry (Leroy Franklin Moore)
Reviewed by Lateef H. McLeod
In Black Kripple Delivers Poetry and Lyrics Leroy Moore gives the reader a detailed glimpse the experiences of black people with disabilities in America. The book gives a black male disabled perspective to issues such as black history, police brutality, love and sexuality, and Hip Hop culture. The book is divided into four chapters with the following titles: Chapter one: Black Blind Blues To Krip-Hip-Hop: Honoring Black Disabled Musicians & Black Disabled History To Be Continued, Chapter 2: Black & Blue: Police, State & The Abuse of People with Disabilities, Chapter 3: Lyrically Speaking Krip Love: Affection, Sexuality … Delivered by The Black Kripple, and Chapter 4: Porgy Sings/Raps Today. Each section centers the voices of black people with disabilities in the many facets of our life and culture. Moore produces a collection of poems that offers an accurate and uplifting picture of black people with disabilities living their lives.
The book's first chapter addresses the prominent African American with disabilities especially prominent musicians with disabilities in American history. Moore writes poems that honors great musicians like Curtis Mayfield and Ray Charles. In the poem "The Spirit of Curtis Mayfield" Moore celebrates the famous soul singer Curtis Mayfield who was paralyzed because of an accident on stage in one of his performances. The poem incorporates the titles of Curtis Mayfield's songs in the body of the poem. Stanzas like "Miss Black America/ On the porch/ With Ms. Martha" and "Move On Up/ And Tripping Out/ All Night Long" (13) illustrates how Moore meshes the song titles together to form a poetic narrative. The reader is invited to remember the breath of Curtis Mayfield musical catalog that made him a treasure to all that listened to his music. Moore honors Ray Charles in the poem "Radical Ray" Leroy Moore depicts the more radical side of Ray Charles depicting how he wrote songs like "Hey Mister" that highlights some of the social problems of America like income inequality. The mainstream media ignores this side of Ray Charles and instead promotes a more patriotic version of the singer like when he sung "America the Beautiful". Poems like these celebrate heroes, musicians, and artists in the African American disability community.
In the second chapter Moore discusses how state sanctioned police violence often physically abused and even murder people of color with disabilities. In poems like "Hung, Shot & Assaulted" it illustrates the pervasiveness that police officers prey on people with disabilities. This poem harkens back to the centuries of history in this country of African American with disabilities enduring violence and murder from the state sanctioned police force and white vigilantism. When Moore said in the poem:
I was profiled in New York
This passage illustrates how throughout American history people of color with disabilities have endured discrimination and violence in their community. Another poem in this chapter, "Disabled Profiled" Leroy Moore and Keith Jones team up to express their experiences of being police profiled. In Moore segment of the poem he says:
Confused, disabled and black
The third section of this book deals with Moore's expressions of sexuality and love. In the poem "Little Red Riding Hood" gives an example of Moore's venture into erotic poetry. The poem shows the depth of Moore's vivid imagination as his alter ego, the Black Kripple, encounters an adult version of Little Red Riding Hood in a romantic tryst. The poem fully displays the sexual desire of an adult male with a disability, which is still a taboo in this society. The poem gives an up close look to a man with a disability taking control of his sexuality and desires, an act that was not always granted to many people with disabilities. This poem and others like it in this book asserts a level of humanity in reclaiming the capacity for sexuality and romantic expression that was denied to many people with disabilities. The other types of poems that are in this chapter are poems that he dedicated to the family and friends that he loves. An example of this kind of poem is "My Sister, Melissa" dedicated to Moore's sister Melissa. The poem touches on the challenges that occurred in Melissa's life with the downturn in the economy and how she preserved to build a better life for herself. In the penultimate stanza of the poem she says:
So she counts on the months and days
This passage highlights the inner strength that Melissa has in supporting her family and keeping them together. It is also evident how much Moore loves and supports her sister and wants the best for her. Poems like this exhibits Moore's big heart and his capacity to love those close to him.
The last chapter of the book deals with black people's place in popular culture such as Hip-Hop. In this section Moore includes poems like "Move Get Out The Way", which is a riff on emcee Ludacris's song "Move Bitch". In the poem he critiques Ludacris for being manipulated by the major record companies in making music that is offensive to marginalize communities like women and people with disabilities. The poem directs the reader's attention to real issues that Ludacris fails to address in his music:
Oh no got u playing step n fetch on stage
While Ludacris is making his millions producing his mainstream music, the city that he is from, Atlanta is still being gentrified displacing the black people and black culture that has a rich history in the city. The fact that Ludacris does not address these critical issues in his music indicates what type of artist he is and where his allegiance lies in regards to the community that he comes from. Another poignant poem in this chapter is "When Black Disabled Scholars Die"', which discusses the plight of those of us that are black disabled scholars and activists and what will be our legacy when we die. He said in the second stanza of the poem that:
He/She works in isolation
Black Kripple Delivers Poetry and Lyrics is a collection of poetry that displays the love and the humanity of a dignified black man with cerebral palsy. He includes poems in this book that illustrates the multiple facets that he occupies as an artist. It is a work that as a fellow black poet with cerebral palsy I commend him for writing and I admire his honesty, which I also try to emulate in my own work. Readers of Moore's first book will enjoy the amount of dedication that was put in to produce this great work of literature.
Title: Black Kripple Delivers Poetry and Lyrics